President Biden should state his continued commitment to transforming our democracy and passing the For the People Act in this year’s joint address to Congress.
Every year, the State of the Union is a pivotal moment for the president to clearly state their top policies and priorities and set the tone for the coming year.
As President Biden currently confronts a historic set of challenges — carrying us out of a crippling pandemic, rebuilding our economy, advancing racial justice, grappling with climate change and more — this year’s address at the end of April will serve as a critical moment to chart a new way forward and recommit to democracy reform at the 100-day mark of his administration.
To make meaningful progress on the challenging issues facing our country, we need a fully functioning democracy. This means a democracy where all voices can be heard; where the public interest, not special interests, guide decision-making; and where the people can put faith in their leaders to do the right thing for the country.
To get us there, President Biden must prioritize comprehensive democracy reform, both through the legislative process and executive actions. This starts with championing the passage of the For the People Act — comprehensive democracy reform legislation termed a top priority by both the House and Senate — and expressing this commitment on the night of his address to a joint session of Congress.
The For the People Act is a once-in-a-generation democracy reform package that will expand and protect voting rights for all, end partisan and racial gerrymandering, get dark money out of politics and restore transparency and accountability in our government. This bold legislation will pave the way for progress on issues that voters, including grassroots digital activists, care about and are top of mind for President Biden.
In the past four years, we’ve seen rampant corruption and a disregard for ethics, oversight and the rule of law in our country. Throughout the election cycle, we have continuously had to beat back disinformation and present our positive message of getting every vote counted so Democrats could get things done for the American people, as they were elected to do.
Although there were some very positive changes to voting access in the 2020 election, we also saw this corruption in action throughout the last election cycle. Some voters, particularly disenfranchised communities such as those with a majority of people of color, encountered broken voting machines, stood in line for hours and were turned away from casting their ballot without clear explanation — all while trying to stay safe from the pandemic. The For the People Act would lock in the positive changes and help correct what went wrong last year and long before that.
The For the People Act will protect Americans’ freedom to vote by ensuring that elections are safe and accessible for all, preventing billionaires from buying our elections, and having congressional districts drawn by independent commissions. The For the People Act will make the promise of democracy real for us all.
Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have delivered on their promise of advancing meaningful change in our democracy. The For the People Act was passed in the House as H.R. 1 last month, and the Senate introduced the bill as one of their first orders of business and held a blockbuster Senate hearing.
During his campaign, President Biden had similarly expressed support for actualizing policies that create a full, participatory democracy as a first priority in 2021 and beyond. Now is the time for him to act on his words and build on his long history of fighting to end the dominance of big money in politics and protecting the right to vote by using the bully pulpit of the president to push these reforms forward.
As we all tune in for the State of the Union expected on April 28, we in the grassroots activist community hope that President Biden will make his commitment to transforming our democracy clear. During this unprecedented time, the American people deserve to know that the Biden administration will make the For the People Act a priority.
People voted in record numbers for a president who believes our democracy works best when every vote is counted and every voice is heard. We now have an opportunity to realize the true promise of democracy — a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
President Biden, it’s time to move our country forward to live up to its democratic ideals.
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